You have to climb high to see the border, any border. It’s fascinating to see how world affairs repeat themselves in circles. This picture of mine was taken by a dear girlfriend in Switzerland when I dealt with “Border Taxes” at the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) in Geneva. How did I get there from Amsterdam? Because I was heading a Dutch delegation from the Ministry of Economic Affairs as the Netherlands’ Member of the GATT to the Border Tax Working Party.
It was a big issue around 1969/70. The GATT was established in 1947 to reduce and harmonize import tariffs to promote multilateral trade and encourage consumption. The GATT was part of the UN complex in Geneva as a Special Agency. Its meetings were held in the “Palais des Nations” which was built as of 1929 to serve as the home of the “League of Nations.” It is best known for “the Kennedy Round” (1964-1967), the sixth multilateral tariff negotiation named after President Kennedy, who was assassinated six months before the Round started in Geneva.
Photographs of the Palais des Nations from Wikipedia
Photographs of the Villa Bocage which housed the GATT Secretariat (Kris Terauds-krisageneve.wordpress.com).
From the terrace at the back, you could see the Mont Blanc, and we often had lunch outside in the spring and summer, enjoying the view. In 1975-77, the Gatt Secretariat moved to the historic building “Centre William Rappard” at the Lake of Geneva.
The Border Tax Working Party met regularly over a couple of years. Delegates from some eighty GATT Member States from all over the world descended onto Geneva to discuss the issue to abolish unfair taxes at the border to eliminate their nefarious impact on fair trade. (more…)